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U.S. Gives Florida Medicaid Pilot Program More Time

October 24, 2011 - 6:00pm

As acting state Medicaid director Justin Senior met with an advisory group Tuesday, he got an email on his wireless phone.

Federal officials were letting Senior know they want Florida to request another 15-day extension of a Medicaid managed-care pilot program.

The pilot was originally supposed to end June 30, but the federal government has repeatedly granted temporary extensions as Florida seeks approval to continue the program through June 2014.

"I'm going to get the whole three years, 15 days at a time,'' Senior quipped after reading the email.

Florida's Prescription Database Goes Online

October 13, 2011 - 6:00pm

After years of debate about privacy issues and deadly drug use, Florida doctors and pharmacists can start tapping into a state database Monday to check out patients' prescription histories.

The database is aimed at curbing prescription-drug abuse and "doctor shopping" -- addicts going from doctor to doctor to try to score prescriptions for powerful painkillers such as OxyContin.

Weatherford Top 3Q Fundraiser in House

October 12, 2011 - 6:00pm

Wesley Chapel Republican Will Weatherford, who is set to become House speaker after the 2012 elections, collected $190,300 in campaign contributions between July 1 and Sept. 30 -- far outdistancing all other House candidates.

Weatherford, whose only declared opponent in District 61 is no-party candidate Franklin Donald Stockmeister, increased his overall cash total for the 2012 campaign to $266,750, according to quarterly reports filed this week.

Insurance Chief McCarty Criticizes Workers' Comp Drug 'Spike'

October 10, 2011 - 6:00pm

Looking at a proposed 8.9 percent rate increase for next year, Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty and business groups Tuesday criticized a controversial drug-dispensing practice that they say drives up workers' compensation insurance costs.

The practice involves doctors dispensing what are known as "repackaged" drugs to injured workers, rather than writing prescriptions to be filled at pharmacies. Critics say prices for the repackaged drugs are inflated -- and account for 2.5 percent of the proposed 8.9 percent average rate increase for businesses.

Weekly Roundup: Betting on Budget Cuts. And Slots

October 6, 2011 - 6:00pm

This wasn't the way it was supposed to work.

State lawmakers were supposed to bite the bullet and make cuts in the 2011-12 budget and -- take a deep breath -- things would all get better.

But as budget committees met this week, gloom set in again. Medicaid costs are rising, schools need to find money, tax revenues are lagging. You get the picture.

House Back to Debating Hospital Approval Process

October 3, 2011 - 6:00pm

Amid questions about taking a free-market approach, a House panel Tuesday reopened a long-running debate about state approval of new health facilities.

House Health Care Appropriations Chairman Matt Hudson, R-Naples, said the state has taken a series of steps in recent years to scale back the so-called Certificate of Need process. He questioned whether "we could make the free market work" for facilities such as hospitals and nursing homes.

Public Hospital Debate Set to Return

October 3, 2011 - 6:00pm

Two Senate leaders said Tuesday they expect lawmakers to plunge back into a debate next year about public hospitals, as a panel appointed by Gov. Rick Scott studies the system.

Senate Health Regulation Chairman Rene Garcia, R-Hialeah, said he plans to again propose a bill that could require circuit judges to sign off on the sales or leases of public hospitals.

Florida High Court Won't Hear Jacksonville Union Case

September 27, 2011 - 6:00pm

In a win for unions, the Florida Supreme Court this week refused to take up a case that will force the city of Gainesville to collectively bargain changes in retiree health-insurance benefits.

The city, which sought to overturn a 1st District Court of Appeal ruling, argued in court documents that the case could have broad implications for government agencies that want to rein in benefit costs.

State to Appeal Decision on Trauma Care Centers

Mental-Health Firm, State Battle Over $4 Million

September 26, 2011 - 6:00pm

Contending that not enough money was spent on patient care, the state Agency for Health Care Administration is trying to recoup $4 million from a firm that manages Medicaid mental-health services.

Tampa-based Florida Health Partners Inc. challenged the agency in cases filed last week in the state Division of Administrative Hearings.

The dispute centers on whether Florida Health Partners in 2006 met a requirement that it spend 80 percent of the money it received -- known as a "medical-loss ratio" -- on caring for Medicaid patients.

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